Government sets out support for ageing workforces

The government has set out a framework for action to support employers in keeping an ageing workforce in employment.

Steve Webb

Its action plan, Fuller working lives – A framework for action, found that the UK economy could have been boosted by £18 billion in 2013 if the employment gap between people in their 40s and those between the ages of 50 and the state pension age had been halved.

The action plan includes the launch of a new guidance toolkit for employers to help support older employees in the workplace, such as making changes to working patterns or finding alternative roles for employees with age-related health difficulties.

Other measures and actions set out in the action plan include:

  • The extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, which takes effect on 30 June.
  • The appointment of a new Older Workers’ Employment Champion, who will advocate the case for older workers within the business community and wider society.
  • The launch of the Health and Work Service, which will give employees with long-term health problems the support they need to stay in or return to work.
  • New initiatives to support people combining paid employment with caring responsibilities.
  • Greater flexibility to combine pension income with earnings, and therefore plan a gradual retirement.

Steve Webb (pictured), pensions minister, said: “Older employees have a huge amount to bring to any workforce and are a vast untapped talent.

“We are living longer and can expect many more years of healthy life. It’s great news, but it’s something that, as a society and as an economy, we need to respond to.

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“The business case is compelling and the research we are launching today sets out clearly the advantages for individuals, employers and the state.

“As part of building a fairer society, I am determined that we boost our support for older staff and help employers challenge outdated perceptions to see the real strengths of this important section of the workforce.”